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Abatti v. Imperial Irrigation District

Facts: A local irrigation district implemented a distribution plan apportioning water for each category of user, including municipal, industrial, and agricultural. Under the plan, water is apportioned first to non-agricultural users and the remaining amounts apportioned among farmers. A farmer sought to invalidate the distribution plan.

Claim: The farmer claims the local irrigation district wrongfully interfered with their prior water rights under the distribution plan by depriving farmers of their prior right to sufficient water to meet their irrigation needs.

Counterclaim: The local irrigation district claims they did not violate the farmer’s rights to water since the district needs to distribute water equitably to all users, not just farmers, and farmers have a right to water service but are not entitled to specific amounts.

Holding: A California court of appeals holds the farmer possessed an equitable and beneficial interest in the irrigation district’s water rights since the irrigation district failed to provide for equitable apportionment among categories of water users. [Abatti v. Imperial Irrigation District (July 16, 2020)_CA6th_]

Editor’s note – On October 28, 2020, the California Supreme Court declined to review the case.

Read the full case text here.